If you’ve been involved in the world of social media marketing for a while now, you’ve probably started to notice an interesting pattern that’s developing within the marketing community. For whatever reason, there’s been an imbalance in the way that brands and businesses execute their marketing strategies.
It’s not surprising if you understand the roots of our marketing community. What is surprising is that no one seems to be addressing it.
So, if no one else will do it… It’s time to have a serious conversation about the development of the way businesses think about social media marketing. Not only are we going to consider the current state of affairs, but we’re also to going to take some time to consider exactly what it will take to maximize the potential of social media marketing.
Learning From Our Mistakes
It’s easy to forget just how much the marketing industry has changed over the last 20 years. Less than two decades ago, television advertising seemed untouchable. Celebrity endorsements weren’t going anywhere. Even radio advertising was still valid enough to be considered a viable marketing option.
But why did all of that work so well? What exactly was it that changed throughout those 20 years?
The short answer is the internet happened. The long answer is that the internet changed the way people consumed everything, including marketing content. Look at all the examples I listed above. Each of those represents a form of what can be considered ‘passive’ media.
It was easy to get people to watch your tv advertisements because they didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. Same with radio commercials. The only saving grace that print advertising had was that you could flip the page, and yet newspapers aren’t exactly light on the ads.
Passive media put marketing campaigns on autopilot. Come up with a catchy jingle, maybe a cute tagline and you were off to the races. Once you’d bombarded your audience with enough ads, you were in business.
The internet fundamentally changed the way that the average person interacted with the rest of the world. As a decidedly ‘interactive’ experience, consumers were able to choose where they wanted to go, what they wanted to consume and when they wanted to consume it.
The internet made the modern consumer well-informed. Instead of taking the television’s word for it that company xyz makes great cars, they can go online and see hundreds of reviews telling them to stay away.
But worst of all for marketers everywhere, the average person got used to being away from ads. Once they came back to watch television or listen to the radio, it was almost laughable how many commercials you had to sit through if you wanted to hear a few songs or see 8 minutes of a show. Expecting consumers to willingly subject themselves to all of that is unrealistic, and something that the marketing industry is still trying to figure out.
Why does any of this matter? Simple. If you want to understand what’s wrong with social media marketing today, all you need to do is look at our history. We’ve been used to bombarding people with shallow content and we’re just looking for another way to pull that off again.
More businesses than ever are using paid ads on social media now. Which isn’t itself a problem so much as how business owners are choosing to pour all their money into these paid ads. Most brands that I’ve seen are using Facebook Ads simply for the purposes of increasing their general exposure. Typically, there’s very little depth or purpose behind their marketing campaign except self-promotion.
“Wait, we shouldn’t be using Facebook Ads for self-promotion?” you’re probably thinking. There’s nothing wrong with drawing attention to yourself. But if your entire marketing campaign is built on self-promotion, you’ll probably run into some issues down the line. To be honest, it’s not the Facebook Ad that’s the issue here. It’s the overall focus on shameless self-promotion that’s prevalent in our marketing community on social media.
Creative: How to Avoid Wasting Potential on Social Media
Let’s step away from the marketing perspective for a second. If we look at this through the lens of the average person, we can recognize that the point of social media was to connect people.
I genuinely believe that all of this started from a good place. Sure, marketers were inevitably going to end up on social media because that’s where the attention is, but the reason social media marketing should would (in theory) is because from a marketing perspective, this is the perfect solution to our passive-interactive media issue. People want marketers to adapt? Fine, we’ll make an effort to connect with them.
And yet, that’s not really what has happened. To be fair, there are plenty of brands that have been able to understand the way social works and have been rewarded spectacularly. But for the most part, businesses have struggled with this concept.
So let’s clear a few things up. First off, your content has to provide value. And not just value in the sense that it leads consumers to a purchase of your product. Whether you’re making blog posts, videos, podcasts, you need to give something to your consumers for free, with no strings attached. The content can be value-driven or purely entertaining. All that really matters is that engages people in a way that isn’t purely based on self-promotion.
It’s really that simple. If you can put the focus back on consumers, you’ll be in a much better place creatively.
Recognize the potential that exists on social media for connection with consumers. It’s easy to forget, but the reality of social media marketing is that the more value you offer, the more valuable you become to consumers.
Metrics: How to Avoid Wasting Time on Social Media
Of course, some of you might be reading this and thinking that connecting with consumers is great and all, but how exactly does that help your bottom line? That’s what the metrics are for.
No one is saying that a business can’t function like a business on social media. You’re still there to make money and turn potential customers into paying ones. The compromise is finding ways to provide value to consumers while also convincing them that you’re worth their money.
The way you keep track of that is through analytics. For your typical marketing analytics, you have Google Analytics. For social media marketing, you’ll have a variety of platform specific tools. Instagram and Facebook both have comprehensive ones.
The key here is recognizing that social media marketing needs to continue to evolve. Trying to find ways to adopt the marketing strategies of old just won’t work in the digital media marketplace of today.